The Christian 12 Steps

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

Why everyone in recovery needs to make amends for past misdeeds

I believe that making amends, an important part of recovery through the 12 steps process, should be incorporated into any philosophy of recovery and addiction treatment.

Whether or not you subscribe to a belief in the value of AA or other 12 steps programs, few can deny the healing power of making full restitution, and that making amends reduces the guilt and shame that if left unresolved, can too often lead us back to abuse. AA worked and works for me, and I subscribe to their particular theory of recovery, but I understand that the program is not right for everyone, and no one approach can ever hope to meet the needs of diverse people in society. Yet I cannot help but think that if only one aspect of AA recovery should be imported to other programs, it should be the belief that by making amends, we heal others and as well reduce the future temptations to abuse.

During a period of abuse, there is a cognitive shift that occurs that allows us to act badly, without even being fully aware of the harms we are committing. We may also act badly knowing full well the implications of our actions, but are so driven towards abuse that our actions are almost beyond our control. Whatever the initial cause or motivations to our behaviors, our behaviors do create consequences, and during periods of sobriety and lucidity we can sometimes see how our behaviors affect others, and the shame and pain of these realizations is always best dealt with through escape into further intoxication.

Clean the Slate

Even after we get help and get sober, the memory of past transgressions remains, and with sobriety and increasing clarity, these memories are compounded. With sobriety comes a full awareness of the pain of our creation, and with awareness comes accompanying feelings of shame and regret. We can never take back our actions, and although making amends is sometimes insufficient to the pain we have caused, it is all we can reasonably do; and if amends are made honestly and with an open heart, much of the shame of our past misbehaviors can be minimized, if not erased entirely.

If we do not strive to make complete amends to all, our feelings of shame and regret can never truly end. Any time we see or even think about a person we have harmed, there is the accompanying negative emotional response, and with enough internalized negative emotions, the temptations towards abuse and escape increase.

Making amends to those that we have harmed is not only the right thing to do; it is also a great way to maximize the likelihood of long term sobriety.

It’s never easy to account for your actions, and the process of restitution is difficult and sometimes painful; but once complete, we can move forward, closing the book on our past misdeeds, and looking forward to a life of better conduct, service to others and sobriety. Pay back what you owe, apologize to those you have harmed, and right any wrong that you can; you’ll feel better, and you’ll have a better chance at a future of sober happiness.

I believe that making amends, an important part of recovery through the 12 steps process, should be incorporated into any philosophy of recovery and addiction treatment.

Whether or not you subscribe to a belief in the value of AA or other 12 steps programs, few can deny the healing power of making full restitution, and that making amends reduces the guilt and shame that if left unresolved, can too often lead us back to abuse. AA worked and works for me, and I subscribe to their particular theory of recovery, but I understand that the program is not right for everyone, and no one approach can ever hope to meet the needs of diverse people in society. Yet I cannot help but think that if only one aspect of AA recovery should be imported to other programs, it should be the belief that by making amends, we heal others and as well reduce the future temptations to abuse.

During a period of abuse, there is a cognitive shift that occurs that allows us to act badly, without even being fully aware of the harms we are committing. We may also act badly knowing full well the implications of our actions, but are so driven towards abuse that our actions are almost beyond our control. Whatever the initial cause or motivations to our behaviors, our behaviors do create consequences, and during periods of sobriety and lucidity we can sometimes see how our behaviors affect others, and the shame and pain of these realizations is always best dealt with through escape into further intoxication.

Clean the Slate

Even after we get help and get sober, the memory of past transgressions remains, and with sobriety and increasing clarity, these memories are compounded. With sobriety comes a full awareness of the pain of our creation, and with awareness comes accompanying feelings of shame and regret. We can never take back our actions, and although making amends is sometimes insufficient to the pain we have caused, it is all we can reasonably do; and if amends are made honestly and with an open heart, much of the shame of our past misbehaviors can be minimized, if not erased entirely.

If we do not strive to make complete amends to all, our feelings of shame and regret can never truly end. Any time we see or even think about a person we have harmed, there is the accompanying negative emotional response, and with enough internalized negative emotions, the temptations towards abuse and escape increase.

Making amends to those that we have harmed is not only the right thing to do; it is also a great way to maximize the likelihood of long term sobriety.

It’s never easy to account for your actions, and the process of restitution is difficult and sometimes painful; but once complete, we can move forward, closing the book on our past misdeeds, and looking forward to a life of better conduct, service to others and sobriety. Pay back what you owe, apologize to those you have harmed, and right any wrong that you can; you’ll feel better, and you’ll have a better chance at a future of sober happiness.

NA versus AA

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.

Dealing with Step 8/9 and making amends

truth is that it is impossible to stay sober and move forward without doing these steps thoroughly and honestly. The guilt alone keeps you stuck in the "old way of thinking" and it is impossible to be honest with yourself when you’re in that zone. You make a list of the people you had harmed. You make the amend and you pay people back what you can. The "program" is based around it. If I want what the others have then I have to do what they do. This is what they do. It is as simple as that. The tough part was explaining to people why I am doing it. I just told them the truth, and I got the respect I never thought I would get. Some people actually decline the money and ended up making amends to me!

truth is that it is impossible to stay sober and move forward without doing these steps thoroughly and honestly. The guilt alone keeps you stuck in the "old way of thinking" and it is impossible to be honest with yourself when you’re in that zone. You make a list of the people you had harmed. You make the amend and you pay people back what you can. The "program" is based around it. If I want what the others have then I have to do what they do. This is what they do. It is as simple as that. The tough part was explaining to people why I am doing it. I just told them the truth, and I got the respect I never thought I would get. Some people actually decline the money and ended up making amends to me!

Other fellowships for those in AA/NA as well

When I took all the drugs and alcohol away I was left with something hard to deal with, ME. I had two choices. Do it my way or do it the way that it was suggested from people in recovery. They made it real simple.

Turn everything over to a higher power and go to as many meetings as possible and don’t drunk/use. Perhaps I just wanted to see what I could do with my own thinking. I was done with substance abuse. In very little time I ended up in a relationship with another sick mind. That got me know where. That got me back on my knees.

Sure enough, I found something else that would take me away from me – the Casino. That was the same thing as Cocaine. Well one day it stopped working. Then I decided that working full time, 17 hours a day, would fix me. Still, the pain, the confusion, the life problems persisted. After two years of trying it my way, I admitted defeat. I put my life into the hands of my trusted friends in the program, and my higher power. Life has been great ever since. My daily goal is to keep my life out of my hands, and rolling in the right direction.

My story seems to be a common one. I do not know many people who have just stepped into the program and are convinced enough to not have to go try it on their own. When I tell my story people do not seem all that surprised. At the very least, the newcomer can see that this is common, and they will know what the outcome will be ahead of time. Perhaps this will help shorten the timeframe of "self will run wild!"

When I took all the drugs and alcohol away I was left with something hard to deal with, ME. I had two choices. Do it my way or do it the way that it was suggested from people in recovery. They made it real simple.

Turn everything over to a higher power and go to as many meetings as possible and don’t drunk/use. Perhaps I just wanted to see what I could do with my own thinking. I was done with substance abuse. In very little time I ended up in a relationship with another sick mind. That got me know where. That got me back on my knees.

Sure enough, I found something else that would take me away from me – the Casino. That was the same thing as Cocaine. Well one day it stopped working. Then I decided that working full time, 17 hours a day, would fix me. Still, the pain, the confusion, the life problems persisted. After two years of trying it my way, I admitted defeat. I put my life into the hands of my trusted friends in the program, and my higher power. Life has been great ever since. My daily goal is to keep my life out of my hands, and rolling in the right direction.

My story seems to be a common one. I do not know many people who have just stepped into the program and are convinced enough to not have to go try it on their own. When I tell my story people do not seem all that surprised. At the very least, the newcomer can see that this is common, and they will know what the outcome will be ahead of time. Perhaps this will help shorten the timeframe of "self will run wild!"

The 3rd Step Prayer

We just finished the first two steps. He explained the simple method of doing the third step.

We both pray, hold hands, and say this prayer right out of the book, the third step prayer.

This seemed very uncomfortable at the time. In reality I would have declined had I not been "ready" to go on the very beneficial journey of staying sober. We read to each other – God I offer myself to thee, to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self so that I may better do thy will, take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, they love and thy way of life.

You know when I first did this, I could not even pay attention to the words – maybe because I was holding the hand of some ex-convict. Maybe because I wasn’t ready. Maybe because I had to live life and make my mistakes before REALLY needing what I was asking for. To be "Relieved of the bondage of self so that I can better do Gods will" has to be the most important thing I have ever asked for.

All I am saying is "Take me away from me and my personal distractions for a minute so I can focus on my higher power because that’s the better route". Every morning when I wake up, I say this prayer.

We just finished the first two steps. He explained the simple method of doing the third step.

We both pray, hold hands, and say this prayer right out of the book, the third step prayer.

This seemed very uncomfortable at the time. In reality I would have declined had I not been "ready" to go on the very beneficial journey of staying sober. We read to each other – God I offer myself to thee, to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self so that I may better do thy will, take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, they love and thy way of life.

You know when I first did this, I could not even pay attention to the words – maybe because I was holding the hand of some ex-convict. Maybe because I wasn’t ready. Maybe because I had to live life and make my mistakes before REALLY needing what I was asking for. To be "Relieved of the bondage of self so that I can better do Gods will" has to be the most important thing I have ever asked for.

All I am saying is "Take me away from me and my personal distractions for a minute so I can focus on my higher power because that’s the better route". Every morning when I wake up, I say this prayer.

Sponsorship in AA

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.